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Republic Help Updates

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sarahd

Money Back Guarantee Update

Posted by sarahd Jul 22, 2016

Beginning on July 28, 2016, our Money Back Guarantee policy is changing to 14 days for all phone purchases. Although the new policy won’t go into effect until July 28, this change will be reflected throughout our website, Community, and the My Account portal beginning today. Any purchases made between now and 2:59 a.m. ET on July 28, 2016 will still be covered under the 30-Day Money Back Guarantee.

 

When we launched Republic in 2011, we decided to offer a 30-day guarantee because we knew we were asking our early adopters to take a pretty big risk switching to an unknown brand with an unproven product. We wanted to give everyone ample time to determine if Republic’s unique service was right for them. Since then, with your support, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds. By July 28th, we’ll have added:

  • Bonded Calling for greatly improved call quality;
  • Nine unlocked GSM phones from the leading Android brands;
  • A new carrier option that gives members access to the fastest nationwide 4G LTE coverage available;
  • BYOP capability and Republic SIM cards;
  • Our patented calling software is no longer required to be specially built into a phone’s ROM, making possible faster updates and more phones.

 

We believe that a 14-day policy still gives our members ample time to make an informed decision. Of course, changing our policy will help us reduce our costs and we’re going to invest those savings in continuing to create innovative solutions to disrupt the telecomm industry, like the list above. We’ll keep working to eliminate the caveats that used to come with becoming a Republic member. And, we won’t stop looking for new ways to help people save money and connect with each other.

 

We’re very excited to be able to offer unlocked GSM phones - providing our members with even more flexibility of choice. As always, we appreciate your questions and feedback and are always here if you need us. If there is ever a problem, we will do whatever we can to give you the best experience possible. Thank you for being with us, we cannot wait for next week!

 

Thanks for your patience and if you have any questions, please let us know here.

In one week from today, we’ll be launching the next evolution of Republic Wireless. This is a huge step for all of us as we expand our portfolio of phones, plans, and carriers. Our engineers have been working tirelessly for months to ensure that our backend systems would be ready to go on launch day.

 

In order to support all of these awesome new changes, we’re performing a complete overhaul of our current platform tomorrow, July 22, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET. During this time, the Republic Wireless website, My Account portal, and portions of the Republic app will be unavailable.

 

The Republic Wireless Community will be available, but in read only mode. If you need to contact Help during this time, Live Chat will still be available from the Maintenance Page and you will be able to send emails to help@republicwireless.com.

 

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience.

 

With this update, we’re one step closer to launch day.

 

Get excited!

sarahd

Republic Wireless 3.0 Reminders

Posted by sarahd Jul 19, 2016

In advance of our July 28th launch of nine awesome new phones from Samsung, LG, Huawei, and Motorola, we wanted to remind our current members that nothing is changing with your current plan, unless you want to upgrade to one of our new phones.

 

What’s new with 3.0:

Our nine new phones are part of our new Republic 3.0 experience, which comes with our new GSM carrier option and access to the fastest nationwide 4G LTE cellular network available.  If you would like one of these phones, you’ll need to select one of our GSM compatible plan options below when you purchase your new phone. Or, if you already own one of our approved BYOP phones, you can purchase a GSM SIM card kit from Republic for $5 (plus shipping and taxes).

 

About new plans:

 

PlanMatrix_full 2.png

 

 

Our 3.0 Clear Choice plans are designed to be straightforward and affordable. What you see is what you get. The plan you sign up for will be what you’re charged month to month, plus standard taxes. No hidden fees or overages - just great service.

 

But what if I want to keep my plan?
You also have the option to keep your Republic 1.0 plans and 2.0 Refund plans on your current phone. If you’re looking for a new phone on your current plan, you can purchase the Moto G (3rd Gen.) or Moto E (2nd Gen.), which are compatible with CDMA cell service. This chart will help you pick the phone and service plan that works best for you this July 28th.

 

CDMA and GSM.jpg

(Please note: You cannot purchase a new 3.0 GSM compatible phone and put your current CDMA SIM card in it. It will not function properly).

 

 

Are there coverage maps I can check?

Yes. You can check your coverage for both CDMA and GSM cellular service on our coverage maps here: CDMA (2.0) and GSM (3.0).

 

 

More details:

For more info about our new Republic 3.0 Clear Choice plans and compatible phones. Check out our FAQ. We’re thrilled for the next evolution of Republic and are so happy you’re part of the journey.

 

If you still have questions, feel free to post them here.

 

Thanks!

Welcome back. Here’s the latest update on the Moto E (1st Gen.).

 

We have some great news to share.  The Moto E (1st Gen.) Lollipop software build did indeed make it to the lab, if a couple of days late, on July 14th, and is enjoying it’s time in the luxurious Sprint lab.  (I’m obviously trying to make it sound more glamorous than it is… it’s sitting on a shelf while waiting for tests to be run)

 

In these scenarios, no news is good news.  We haven’t heard anything so far, so we expect to hear good news and a passing grade by the middle of next week, the 27th.  Think good thoughts….

 

After that, we have a confluence of events….

 

As we said in our last update, we were working with our tech support teams to determine capacity for support as we are launching a plethora of new devices on July 28th and want to make sure that Moto E (1st Gen.) members get our full attention to make sure that if there are issues, we are on top of them and helping you out.

 

Based on that conversation, our current plan is to start the soak for the Moto E on August 18th.  This test will run for a week and devices will be selected at random.  The push of the build to all devices will start the week of August 25th.

 

We will publish another update on August 1st to confirm the details and rollout schedule.  If, for whatever reason, the device doesn’t exit the lab this week, I will post an update to the blog with details of the changed schedule.

 

If you missed the update a couple of weeks ago, here's the link to that update.

[If the OS release process is new to you, please see this PWK blog post for some background on what goes into the OS release process.]


As always, stay WiFi my friends.

Today, we released an update to the Republic Telephony app, version 2.1.3.2269. The update will be released slowly over the next week.

 

The app update includes:

 


If you need help updating your Republic Telephony app, please follow the instructions here.


A new version of the Republic Wireless app was released yesterday at 100%. This update included a fix for an MMS issue that some members were experiencing after version 2.1.3.2267 was released on June 28, 2016. There are no other additions to this new version.

 

If you need help updating your Republic app, please follow the instructions here.

Today, we released an update to the Republic Wireless app, version 2.1.3.2267. The update began rolling out to the Play Store today and will be fully available for all users by Tuesday, July 5. The app update includes:

  • Voice roaming updates for Republic 1.0 plan members
  • Possible solution for number unreachable error
  • Various stability improvements

 

The voice roaming updates are related to the removal of data roaming on the Republic 1.0 plans that occurred on June 1, 2016. Members that are on 1.0 plans will need to make sure they update the Republic app. If they don’t, voicemail, MMS, and parts of the Republic app won’t work while in a roaming area.


If you need help updating your Republic app, please follow the instructions here.

Here’s the latest update on the Moto E (1st Gen.).

 

Some phones are just more challenging than others.  During our dogfood process, we have discovered an issue related to our carrier partner network connectivity that we have had to fix. 

 

This one is a little inside baseball, but hang with me.  Let's get into the weeds...

 

The PRL file (Preferred Roaming List) basically contains the list of towers the phone can connect to.  The carrier updates this file periodically when they add new roaming partners or change agreements.  This file is compressed and then stored in a fixed memory space on the cellular modem.  The latest file we received when compressed was 96 bytes too big for the allotted space in the modem.  This caused issues when connecting to the cellular network, as the file checksum was incorrect, and the file was corrupt. 

 

We have created a patch for this for the phone so that we won’t put the updated PRL in the modem if it is too big to fit in the allocated space. We are also working with the carrier to increase the compression to try to make the file smaller. Lastly, our carrier partner had to make a network side change to make sure that phones don’t get updated with a big fat PRL before the fix rolls out that will stop them from operating.

 

In addition, we have been working with Motorola to reduce the number of apps in the build to make sure that the install and pre-compile process introduced in Lollipop will run through successfully.  This has worked, so we are confident that this process will make installation less of an issue with memory management.  We outlined the majority of these issues in the last blog post.

 

Next steps are to do another round of regression tests, and prepare the build for the lab.  When the phone enters Slate, we submit to Google certification as well, so we are preparing for this to happen shortly.

 

Our Lab Entry date is tentatively schedule for July 11th with 2 weeks for lab certification, then soak test, and a staggered rollout of the build.

 

We are working with our tech support teams to determine capacity for support as, surprise, surprise, we are launching a plethora of new devices on July 28th and want to make sure that Moto E 1st Gen members get our full attention to make sure that if there are issues, we are on top of them and helping you out.

 

Our latest estimate is that we will start a staggered rollout process for this in mid August (assuming nothing changes between now and then) to start updating your Moto E 1st Gen to Lollipop.

 

Thanks again for your patience, and we’ll publish another update in a couple of weeks. This has been, literally, the most difficult build process we have done, as there are a lot of technical challenges and physical limitations with this phone.  We have considered at several points on the way whether this phone has been worth updating to Lollipop, but we made promises to you as customers that we would.  It has taken a lot longer than we have anticipated, but we are in the home stretch.

 

Apologies for the full autopsy report on where we are, but we wanted to share full context into what is happening.

 

As always, here’s the full back catalog of past updates:

 

[If the OS release process is new to you, please see this PWK blog post for some background on what goes into the OS release process.]

 

Have a great week.

 

As always, stay WiFi my friends.


We just posted a blog over on PWK about two new phones coming to our lineup in July: the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus! These two phones, plus the seven we already announced, will all be available on July 28.

 

You can find the tech specs for each phone here: Moto G (4th Gen.) Tech Specs and Moto G PLUS (4th Gen.) Tech Specs.

 

Please feel free to leave your questions and comments here.

We hope you all had a relaxing weekend.  Here’s the latest update on the Moto E (1st Gen.).

 

The internal dogfood on the phone is wrapping up, and we wanted to share the findings with you.  We have seen some memory space issues with the Lollipop build on the phone.  The Lollipop build is pretty big, and combined with the way that Lollipop optimizes all the apps to run when it starts up, creates some memory space challenges. 

 

So, what does that mean for you?

 

If you are going to upgrade to Lollipop on the Moto E (1st Gen.), we would advise you get an SD card for your phone to move your media and apps to.  This won’t completely solve the issue because some apps can’t run from the SD card, and when apps are updated from the Play Store, they move back to the phone, but it is a temporary fix for creating more storage on the phone.  Another option (or as well) is to pare down the apps you really need on the phone.  If you are like me, outside of my “go to” apps, I download a new app, look at it once or twice and then forget about it.  So, now is a good time to take stock of the apps you have installed and need.  Our advice is to uninstall the ones you don’t use as they will take up valuable space when Lollipop arrives.

 

This is not a Republic specific problem, but is an issue across the board for Lollipop.  Lollipop has a larger footprint than KitKat, and there is a large increase in the size of Google Mobile Services apps. This is especially challenging with a small memory footprint such as the 4GB Moto E (1st. Gen).  It hasn’t been as much of an issue on the other phones as they have more memory.

 

We still feel that the calling and texting performance of the phone has been significantly improved, and that’s why we are pushing ahead with the update, but we are going to make the update optional on launch and see how the update looks.

 

So, what are the next steps?

We have to incorporate one final round of Android Security patches. Android is releasing updates on a more frequent basis, and in order to make it through Google Certification, we have to include them.   We will do a round of regression tests, and prepare the build for the lab.  When the phone enters Slate, we submit to Google certification as well, so we are hammering to get this done in the next couple of weeks.

 

Ok, so when is Lollipop going to happen? We will go through the normal steps:

 

Integrating newer Android Security patches: About 2 weeks.

Regression Testing: A week or two.

Slate: One week for lab preparation

Lab Entry: 2 weeks for lab certification

Soak : 1 week for soak

Rollout will start the week following the soak.  These are tentative timings, but we are pushing to accelerate them if we can.

 

We appreciate your patience, and we’ll publish another update in a couple of weeks. I hope this level of detail is useful.

 

As always, here’s the full back catalog of past updates:

 

[If the OS release process is new to you, please see this PWK blog post for some background on what goes into the OS release process.]

 

Have a great week.

 

As always, stay WiFi my friends.

jons

Introducing Clear Choice Plans

Posted by jons May 24, 2016

Last week, we unveiled the largest range of new product improvements in the history of Republic Wireless: new phones, a second carrier partner, and an all new software architecture that enables fast updates to your phones.  All of this runs on our patented Adaptive Coverage™ technology. Today we are announcing another piece of the Republic 3.0 puzzle - new plans.  In this post we’ll lay out the details of our new plans and give you some context for how these plans came to be.

 

First off…we call them the Clear Choice Plans. These plans offer incredible savings, in a simple package...here they are:

 

PlanMatrix.png

We have plans up to 10GB, see the full lineup here.

 

 

Same Mission, New Plans

 

If you’ve been a customer for awhile, you know we’ve had a variety of plans over the years.  We started with $19, moved to $10/$25/$40 (1.0 Plans) and last year introduced Refund Plans (2.0 Plans).  If you’re wondering why we’re changing again, the answer is simple: At every turn we’re trying to create the best plans paired with the best service and technology Republic has to offer.  The Clear Choice plans are the next evolution, and paired with our new phones and carrier partners, they push the savings even further for even more people.

 

How did you decide on these plans?

 

In our last update, we described all the feedback we’ve received regarding Refund Plans.  Over the past year we’ve talked to hundreds of customers and surveyed thousands.  We talked to members on Refund Plans and members who’d decided not to switch from our 1.0 Plans.  We tried to understand what they liked, what they didn’t, and what they wanted us to add.  We know everyone is different, but there were common threads in the feedback.

 

  1. Refund plans were polarizing. We heard everything from “The Refund Plans are a stroke of genius.” to “$55 for 3GB is a joke!”  Many of you told us you want something simple, something you didn’t really have to “figure out”, but still delivered incredible savings. 
  2. 1.0 plan members didn’t resonate with Refunds.  When talking to 1.0 members, the most common reason they didn’t switch to Refund Plans was they wanted access to more data at a lower rate. Others cited that they wanted the comfort of knowing their bill is going to be the same every month.  As of today, only 38% of our Refund Plan customers are ones who’ve switched from 1.0 plans.  This feedback was a driving force in evaluating and re-evaluating our plans for the next evolution of Republic. 
  3. We found a better way... We set out to build something more of our members would love.  In our research discussions with members, we found that simpler options were strongly preferred to more complex ones.   Specifically, when we tested the Clear Choice Plans 80% chose them over the existing Refund Plans.  In the end we found the Clear Choice plans were more broadly appealing to members and prospects alike.

 

In summary, Republic 3.0 isn’t just new plans, it’s an entirely new service offer.  We have a new carrier partner, a new technical foundation, and a broad selection of the best Android phones on the market.  This is all great stuff - these are the keys that have unlocked all the cool things we announced last week, but they also have different technical and cost implications for us.  All of these changes were factors in the design of our new Clear Choice plans, including moving the base price of $15 for unlimited talk and text.

 

We understand some of you would prefer we stay with a Moto only portfolio of devices, on the Sprint network, at the current $10 price point (that option will still be available on our current Moto E and G devices). However, based on all the discussions and feedback from our members, we decided the majority of our members would prefer the benefits of Republic 3.0 at a $15 price point vs. the more limited device/ network offerings at $10.

 

If you’re an existing member, you might have specific questions about your plan and your phone.  We’ve put together an FAQ that should answer most your questions: Republic Wireless 3.0 FAQs.

 

How do these plans compare?

 

Each of our new plans includes Unlimited Talk & Text over WiFi and Cell - delivered via our Adaptive Coverage Technology that provides high quality coverage in more places.

 

With the Clear Choice plans, you can select a plan that includes as little as 1GB of LTE data (for only $20!), up to as much as 10GB of data. Or, stick with our popular unlimited Talk & Text only plan for $15/month, which is half the price of offers from the big carriers1. All plans include calling and text messaging to Canada and the US territories (and we are looking to add more soon).  As always, there are no contracts, and you are free to change plans anytime. If you run out of data, there are no overage charges - you can upgrade your plan from your Republic App for the rest of the month.

 

The new plans are savings simplified. At 1GB, these plans are less than half the price of comparable offers in the market today from the big carriers.  Best of all, they offer savings for people with a broad range of data needs - Clear Choice plans are 58% less than the average big carrier price for 1GB of data, and 35% less for 4GB and continue to provide savings up to 10GB.  In case you are wondering which of these plans would fit best for you, our data shows that 85% of our members would be fine on our $20 1GB plan.

 

 

PlansComparisonChart.png

Prices based on Verizon & AT&T Postpaid Plans, May 2016

 

 

We could make more comparisons (to other MVNOs, etc), but, this blog is long enough already and we're happy to address any questions in the community dialog to come.  We purposefully structured the Clear Choice plans to be easily comparable against the big carriers.  We’re confident that you’ll see the savings that the Clear Choice plans offer, and of course they don’t come with any hidden fees that will surprise you when your bill arrives.

 

So this is how we’ve arrived at our new plans.  In the end, we think the Clear Choice plans will be more appealing to more members, whether you have 1.0 plans, Refund Plans, or you haven’t joined Republic just yet.  Please check them out, and join the conversation here.

 

 

1 Offers from Pre-paid Verizon & AT&T, May 2016

emily.f

Welcome Our New Ambassadors

Posted by emily.f Employee May 23, 2016

As some of you know, we have an Ambassadors Program that empowers particularly helpful, knowledgeable members of the Republic Community to assist other members, answer questions, and help us build a stronger Community. You've probably seen them around here, and they are easily identifiable by the shield icon next to their usernames.ambassadorshield.gif

 

Today, I'm excited to share that we've recently added four new Ambassadors to the program. Please join me in welcoming:


You may notice that capt.carey and grandbobby aren't active here on the Community. Since the Republic Community extends beyond the community site, we have chosen to expand the Ambassador Program to also include members that are helpful and active on our social media channels. This is new for us, but I believe that a mutli-channel approach to the Ambassador Program is the right one, as it allows us to help more members, regardless of where they may be online.

 

Please join me in welcoming our new Ambassadors, and thanking them for all of their contributions to the Republic Community!

With everything else going on last week, we haven’t forgotten about the Moto E update to Lollipop.  The good news is that the build has gone through the QA process with no major issues. Next up, we are going to start the internal dogfood process. This process is usually takes about 2 weeks.

 

This is a big milestone.  It means the phone has cleared the first set of tests (to make sure that the basic functions perform within tolerances) and we are now using this phone internally. 

We had initial concerns about the performance of the device on Lollipop, but these have been alleviated, and we are pushing forward.

 

We are continuing to work as hard as possible to get this done. We want you to enjoy all the Adaptive Coverage goodness announced a couple of weeks ago.

 

We appreciate your patience, and we’ll publish another update in a couple of weeks.

 

As always, here’s the full back catalog of past updates:

 

[If the OS release process is new to you, please see this PWK blog post for some background on what goes into the OS release process.]

 

We hope you enjoy your weekend.

 

As always, stay WiFi my friends.

jons

The Plan for Plans

Posted by jons May 11, 2016

Today, we announced a host of breakthrough products at Republic Wireless: new phones, a new carrier partner, and an all new software architecture that enables fast updates to your phones. In the next couple weeks, we’ll unveil one last piece of the puzzle - new plans. That’s right; we have new plans that push savings even further and they’ll be available with every new phone we’ve announced today.  I know this brings up lots of questions, which we’ll answer in detail in the next couple weeks, but here are some of the basics to set your mind at ease:

 

  • You Keep What You Have: We focused on ensuring that everyone could keep the plan and phone they have today (if you want to keep them). So, even though we have new plans to offer that we’re very excited about, we won’t be dropping support for existing customers’ plans on existing service lines, including continuing to sell today’s plans on our current portfolio of Moto E and G devices. That’s one of the reasons we recently extended our Republic Wireless 1.0 $25 and $40 plans for our members.
  • New Plans Will Be Savings Simplified: For example, one of our plans will be Unlimited Talk & Text + 1GB of LTE data for just $20.  This single plan fits most of our members needs and as we look across the market, we don’t see anywhere else you can find this deal.  Yeah, we’re excited about that one too!
  • All New Everything: new Network, new software, new phones means lots of changes.  Our new plans are designed to complement all these new features and deliver even more savings to you, our members.


We’re still putting the finishing touches on the details of the new plans, but here’s the inside story of how these plans came together.


Refund Plans


Since we launched back in 2011, we’ve been iterating on our plans to deliver the most value to customers using our technology.  We started with the $19 plan, then followed with a new lineup including our $10 and $25 plans. The latest version, our Refund Plans, was introduced in July 2015.  Refund Plans are based on the premise that you should only pay for the cell data you use.  It eschewed the practice of “breakage” by giving you a refund for any data left over at the end of the month.  It’s been almost a year since launching Refund Plans, and to say the least, we’ve gotten lots of feedback.  Refund Plans were new and unlike other carrier plans - we got some good feedback, and some not so good feedback.  Here’s the summary:


When customers used Refund Plans, they had some great things to say:

 

  1. "Whoa, my bill is only $13.83!” That’s right, customer bills are reaching all time lows with Refund plans. (The average customer bill was $13.83 last month)
  2. "I use data only when I need it.” We built data controls right into our phones, since we controlled the ROM-level software.  This gave our members the power to use data just when they needed it, and turn it off when they didn’t.  68% of Refund customers said they relied on these controls - this led to huge savings.
  3. "I tell everyone I know about the Refund Plans.” We monitor referral activity and our members on Refund plans report some of the highest satisfaction and referral rates (57% Net Promoter Score, which is really good).  These folks love the savings of Refunds, and can’t wait to tell others about it.
  4. And, we’ve already refunded over $3.4 million in unused cellular data since launching Refund Plans last July - earning us a near perfect score (a 9.8!) in PC Mag’s Reader’s Choice Awards for satisfaction with plan costs.


Others, who chose not to switch, were very skeptical:

 

  1. "Whoa, that looks expensive!” In comparison to competitor plans that offer lots of data, you told us that the plans "look" expensive, and we agree. I say "look" because these comparisons don't factor in the Refund component of the plan. They simply say "$55 for 3GB? I can get 3GB for $40 at T-Mobile." Refunds do matter, though; in fact, we are finding that customers use only about 50% of the data they buy from us, so the refunds add up to real savings. However, although Refund Plans are saving many customers money (the average bill is below $15), the fact that they may "look" more expensive turns a lot of people off.
  2. "I need more data!” Although Republic customers, on average, use less cell data than others (because of our built-in WiFi offloading technology), we still find that a majority of customers want more cell data...period. The anxiety of running out of data is a driving force for many of the customers who have told us they value the security of more data over getting refunds.

  3. "I don’t want to think about it.” Thinking about your cell data usage, how much you have and how much you need, doesn’t interest most people - it’s too much complexity.  In fact, most people we talked to prefer predictable bills - Refund Plans make them uneasy, knowing that each time they use cell data, their refund gets smaller and they’re closer to running out.


Building Plans for the Future of Republic


Refund Plans have succeeded in delivering savings and putting customers in control - but we knew they had shortcomings.  They are too complex, and make it hard for most people (no matter how much data you want) to see the value they can provide.  We took in all this feedback and asked ourselves what we always do: “What are the best plans we can offer our members right now?”  We knew we had to simplify the savings.  We knew we had to give more people more data because having to explain a complicated plan structure shouldn’t be a part of the conversation when telling others about the awesomeness that is Republic.


Today’s market is dominated by carriers pitching larger and larger amounts of data.  That said, you don’t see too many competitors actually reducing prices; they are just packing more and more into bigger, more expensive plans. This...this is where we see an opportunity - an opportunity to keep things simple but deliver incredible savings.  You’ll find our new plans will look more like a traditional structure, with two important differences: (1) The price; our new plans offer 60% savings versus comparable plans from the Big 41; and (2) No tricks, overages or gotchas;  we’ve kept contracts and hidden fees out of our offerings from the beginning, and we will continue to do so!


There will be more details about plans in the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, there will be more late nights (just like back in 2015), getting ready for the biggest launch in Republic history - another beginning.

 

1Savings compared to VZW 1GB plan is $30 for 1GB + $20 for service line = $50 (pulled 5/10/16).

 

Please feel free to leave your questions and comments here.

“Let’s build a mobile phone service that uses WiFi to save millions of people billions of dollars.  And, let’s treat these millions of people as members, not customers, with the fairness and transparency we’ve always craved as consumers ourselves.” – Republic Wireless’ vision in 2011  

 

Hi, I’m Chris Chuang, and I’m co-founder and COO of Republic Wireless.  Many of you do not know me, as my role has been mostly behind-the-scenes during this four and half year journey since we launched Republic Nov 19, 2011 (I’m the comically excited guy from the dancing gif email that went out last month; please don’t judge me on my rhythm, or lack thereof).  We thought this post would be best coming from me, given the historic perspective I can offer dating back to Day 1.  Specifically, I’m here to personally attest to three truths from Republic’s history:

 

  1. From Day 1, our vision (per the above) has been to save millions of people billions of dollars with our unique WiFi-first mobile service.
  2. From Day 1, we’ve listened to our members and their #1 request has been an increased selection of compatible phones (clearly folks weren’t checking us in 2011 for our two year old LG Optimus devices).  Over the years, you’ve consistently and passionately told us you want more devices, better devices, better pricing and ways to pay for devices, faster device launches, faster device software updates, and the ability to bring your own device to us (or bring it away from us to another carrier).
  3. From Day 1, we’ve believed the best way to serve millions of people is to serve one person well and then repeat that millions of times.  With this principle in mind, we’ve always known the key to fulfilling our vision and serving each of you well was to find a way to deliver on your #1 request and offer you the devices and associated experience (faster updates, etc.) you want & deserve.

 

It’s because of these three truths that my teammates and I are so incredibly excited to share that we are adding seven (yes, SEVEN!) of the latest smartphones from four of the top five Android manufacturers to our portfolio (you can either buy them from us, aided by device financing if helpful, or you can bring your own new or used version of these seven devices as well).  Furthermore, a second of the four national cellular carriers has agreed to join the Republic WiFi first party, and as a result these new devices will be available on our new GSM cellular network partner, who boasts the nation's fastest 4G LTE network.  Finally, we’ve come up with a new approach for our technology that will allow us to offer more devices sooner and get software updates deployed quicker.  Hopefully, all of this device news makes it clear we’ve been listening closely to all your feedback over the years and you’re as excited as we are (now you know why I was dancing in the email!).

 

However, I’m sure you may also naturally be wondering, why now?  Why didn’t you do all (or any) of this before? Are there any limitations to this good news?  Those are great and relatively complicated questions.  Let me first try and unpack the “why now” question, which will then help you understand why there are also a few limitations. This is lengthy, but, per our original vision, we’d like to offer you full transparency into this device evolution and our thinking and decisions along the way.

 

Let’s start from the beginning, and answer why our initial phone portfolio was limited to just one phone manufacturer (and at times, just one phone).  Early on, we debated whether we should just build an app that could be available across most iPhone and Android devices, just like like Skype and other Over-the-Top (OTT) apps. Instead, we made a very deliberate choice that a native experience was more important (i.e. – no separate apps, configurations, settings changes, or user names/ identities needed).  With a native experience, we could also manage updates on the backend so the caller didn’t have to worry about maintenance. Importantly, the native experience also enabled us to leverage traditional cell networks where needed for seamlessly blending cell and WiFi.  Simply said, our vision for the user experience was, “just push the Android phone button and the service just works like on any of the Big 4 carriers, with your regular phone number (not a separate joe@xyz.com identity).  From 2011 through 2015, there was only one way to achieve this vision - through custom modification of the Android ROM. There were some challenges with this approach, as it meant a limited device portfolio and it slowed down our software updates. However, we felt that the tradeoff was worth it for the gains in user experience and savings we could deliver. 

 

Fast forward to 2016. Thanks to a massive amount of work, including some innovative breakthroughs by our Republic engineering team, new Android M capabilities, and collaborative cellular carrier partnerships, we are now officially out of the ROM and are onto a new technical architecture we call RW 3.0.

 

So what does this new RW 3.0 world mean for you?  Well, on RW 3.0, you can take an off-the-shelf unlocked device (from Republic’s tested and approved list, for example, the Samsung S6), pop in our Republic SIM card, download our Republic app, and receive the same great Republic experience in just a few minutes that used to require us to do many months of deep ROM integration work in tight partnership with the device manufacturer and cellular carrier partner.  Because we no longer need to do this deep integration and certification work with the device manufacturer and cellular carrier, we can now:

  • add more device manufacturers beyond just Moto
  • launch new phones at the same time as everyone else
  • deploy operating system updates much faster
  • perform updates to our service and apps as fast as we want (via Google Play)
  • lighten our supply chain inventory requirements
  • increase the places our members can buy our services (think Amazon and other places where unlocked devices are sold)
  • enable members to take their devices with them to other carriers if they are leaving Republic


Overall, RW 3.0 equates to a much more agile Republic Wireless, better equipped to serve our members and their diverse needs in today’s ever-changing market.

 

All positives, right?  Well, mostly.  As you may have already started to see in the summary above, there are a few tradeoffs/limitations that were necessary to deliver this big advance in devices and networks on RW 3.0.  Specifically:

  • Android™ 6.0 M only
    • RW 3.0 is built on and only works with Android M currently.  We will only be able to sell Android M phones (and future Android releases down the road like N, O, etc.), and we won’t be able to upgrade our Moto G (3rd Gen.) devices to Android M as they are tied to our previous RW 2.0 architecture and we have no clean way to migrate them over. To put it in plain terms: Motorola is working on upgrading the Moto G (3rd Gen.) phones to Android M now. We could do what we’ve always historically done - abide by often lengthy 3rd party certification timeframes and focus our engineering efforts on upgrading that one phone, the Moto G (3rd Gen.). Or, we could take the necessary steps to focus on RW 3.0 with these same resources and advance Republic to its next evolution. This was not an easy decision for us, but we felt the right decision was to focus on RW 3.0 as it would benefit more people given the breadth of devices and service it enables.  If you recently purchased (within the last 30 days) a Moto G (3rd Gen.) and were really looking forward to getting Android M, you can of course return it and we’ll be glad to help find another solution that works for you.
  • GSM carrier partner only (to start)
    • Our new devices require a unique collaboration with our cellular carrier partner, and thus far only our GSM partner has been able to complete this work (we’re targeting to get this done with Sprint as well before the end of 2016 so that we can make these new devices available to members who prefer the Sprint network for their cellular coverage needs).
  • No more Data Saver tools
    • Because we are now out of the ROM, we don’t control the devices as deeply anymore, and as a result we are technically unable to replicate our Data Saver tools.

 

So there it all is, the news you’ve been patiently waiting for these past few months, in full transparency.  We greatly value our members and the equally transparent feedback you give us about what matters to you about our service.  I hope the above provides a good explanation for why we’re now able to offer this major improvement in our device offerings and experience, including some of the limitations and complex decisions this evolution requires for us.  We have great conviction the few tradeoffs required for this transition are well worth the gain, and hope you and millions of future Republic members to come will agree as well. This is the next evolution of Republic Wireless and it has all of us here in Raleigh dancing with excitement (although, apparently I’m the only one who has the “privilege” of becoming a dancing gif for our members to enjoy).

 

Thanks for joining us on this journey…staying with us during the ups and downs...patiently waiting for us while we earnestly work to improve all aspects of the Republic experience...and sharing this transformative and exciting moment with us now.  We’re in this together.

 

Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.

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